What is Law?
Law is the system of rules that a society or government develops to deal with crimes, business agreements and other social relationships. It is also a term for the people who work in this system. The laws are enforced by police and courts. They are designed to keep society orderly and protect individual liberties and rights.
Some countries have a single set of laws for all their citizens. Others have a constitutional framework for the overall legal system and then make further laws for matters of detail. In most modern societies, people have enough freedom within the laws to do the things they want to do. However, if someone breaks the law, they may be punished for it.
Generally, laws are made by a group of politicians in a legislative body, such as a parliament or congress, elected (chosen) by the governed. They can also be created by the actions of individuals, such as an accident or a crime.
A law can be a written document or a rule of behaviour. It can also be an opinion of a judge or an expert witness. It can also be a system of procedures for deciding cases, such as civil procedure or criminal procedure.
In common law systems, judges’ decisions are recognised as law, and are on equal footing with legislative statutes. This is the principle of “stare decisis”, meaning that a decision by a court binds lower courts to reach similar conclusions. In civil law systems, legislative statutes are usually more detailed than judicial decisions.
Some laws are based on religious precepts, such as Jewish Halakha and Islamic Sharia, or Christian canon law. Others rely on further human elaboration for their scope and depth. For example, Islamic law relies on a combination of interpretation, Qiyas (reasoning by analogy), Ijma (consensus) and precedent.
Other laws cover areas of the economy, such as labour law or intellectual property law. They can also apply to particular groups of people, such as children or the elderly.
Some laws are general and apply to everyone in a country, while others only apply to specific groups of people, such as workers or the poor. Laws can also vary from place to place, depending on cultural traditions and the needs of different communities. These factors help shape how law is interpreted and applied.